The family business commanded both corners on either side of their central Fresno storefront, plastic tables with elaborate bouquets of flowers set under canopies on East Belmont Avenue at North Van Ness Avenue and North Fulton Street.
Their target: Last-minute Mother’s Day shoppers.
Aurelia Pacheco and her family work 16-hour days twice every year, on Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. At Fun Time Balloons, situated in the middle of the block, they also sell flower arrangements, stuffed animals, cards and everything else traditionally gifted during the holidays of love.
Sales weren’t great on Sunday morning, but they were better than usual.
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Pacheco bought the business six years ago. She likes selling flowers, but remembers Mother’s Day being much more elaborate in her native Oaxaca, Mexico. There, the holiday is celebrated every May 10, no matter the day of the week.
“It’s something huge for those who have children,” she said in Spanish. “It’s the only day they recognize you as a mother.”
Now as a business owner, Pacheco stays too busy helping others recognize their mothers to be recognized herself. Her husband, sister and two daughters helped customers at the stands and in the store.
The family spends a week preparing for Mother’s Day, bringing a carload of flowers back from a Los Angeles wholesale vendor, where Pacheco said they are cheaper and fresher. Last week, they bought 50 dozen roses — their most popular flower.
Pacheco’s daughter Jessica Elorza, 18, said the family usually takes her mother out for dinner a week or so after Mother’s Day. Sometimes they don’t celebrate at all.
“It’s kind of sad seeing her work all day and not having her day off,” Elorza said. “But we always tell her ‘Happy Mother’s Day’ in the morning before we come in.”
At the corner of Belmont and Van Ness, Pacheco’s sister, Teresa Pacheco de Antonio, manned the roadside flower stand.
Chano Zuniga, 61, asked how much a small bouquet of flowers would cost. “It’s for my mother,” he said in Spanish.
“These cost $15 but I’ll give it to you for $14, so long as you bring your mother something,” Pacheco de Antonio told him.
“My mother loved flowers,” Zuniga said. “She would wake up at 5 a.m. to tend her roses.” She died in 1995, he added.
“Are you going to visit her? My mother is in Mexico. I can’t visit her,” Pacheco de Antonio said.
Zuniga was on his way to his mother’s gravesite at Fresno Memorial Gardens. He brings her flowers every year. This year, he also carried a heart-shaped balloon.
Pacheco de Antonio shared Zuniga’s sense of loss. Her mother died 17 years ago.
“On days like this,” she said, eyes brimming with tears, “I miss her more.”
Like her sister, Pacheco de Antonio shrugged off having to work on Mother’s Day. She regularly helps her husband run a cleaning business, but Sunday was her first time selling flowers.
Pacheco de Antonio’s 13-year-old daughter sat silently under the canopy as her mother helped customers.
“A good mother has to be a good example for her child,” Pacheco de Antonio said.
A Mother’s Day spent working became further proof of that example.
She looked over at her daughter, beaming with pride. Being together was all that mattered, anyway.